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Penis transplant recipient may be able to have sex again

A soldier injured by a bomb in Afghanistan became the first person to have a successful penis and scrotum transplant

by Chelsey B. Coombs
Apr 23 2018, 8:41pm

In a first-of-its-kind surgery, reconstructive doctors at Johns Hopkins University have successfully completed the world's first penis and scrotum transplant.

The team of 11 doctors used the penis, scrotum, and partial abdominal wall of a dead person to give the patient — a soldier who was injured by a bomb in Afghanistan — what they hope will be “near normal” sexual and urinary functions, according to a press release.

The March 26 surgery took 14 hours.

"It's a real mind-boggling injury to suffer. It is not an easy one to accept," the anonymous recipient said in the release. "When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal.”

To complete the surgery, doctors had to connect three of the donor’s arteries, four veins, two nerves, urethra and skin to the recipient. The transplant, called a “vascularized composite allotransplantation,” will enable him to urinate and have erections.

Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, a professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins, said the doctors made sure to remove the testicles of the donor, which produce sperm and hormones like testosterone, for ethical reasons, because the recipient would be producing sperm genetically related to the donor. The New York Times reports that the recipient will take testosterone and the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis as a substitute.

Previously, doctors would have been able to reconstruct a penis using tissue from other parts of a patient’s body, but a prosthetic implant, which brings a higher rate of infection, would still be required for an erection.

Two previous penis transplants have been performed successfully, but they were less extensive than the Hopkins transplant.

While this transplant, like all other transplants, could result in a rejection, doctors are using drugs that suppress the immune system and expect the patient to leave the hospital within the next week.

Lee said the doctors are not currently planning to use this type of transplantation for gender-reassignment surgeries.

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